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News in the Humanosphere: Humanitarian pause starts in Aleppo, U.N. hopes to evacuate civilians

Aleppo, Syria (Stijn Hüwels/flickr)

A “humanitarian pause” in the Syrian army’s Russian-backed assault on Aleppo took effect Thursday, but despite a drop in violence there was little sign residents were heeding calls to leave. Moscow said the truce would be extended by 24 hours, and the UN said it hoped to carry out the first medical evacuations from Aleppo on Friday, after getting clearance from all warring parties. The unilateral ceasefire began at 8:00 am (0500 GMT) with the aim of allowing civilians and fighters to evacuate the city’s opposition-controlled east. Shortly after the pause began, gunfire and artillery exchanges erupted around one crossing point, with state news agency SANA saying “terrorist groups” had targeted the area “in an attempt to hinder the humanitarian pause”. But by afternoon, the clashes had subsided and the east was calm, though the streets were empty. (AFP

To China, with love… President Rodrigo Duterte announced his “separation” from the United States on Thursday, declaring he had realigned with China as the two agreed to resolve their South China Sea dispute through talks. Duterte made his comments in Beijing, where he is visiting with at least 200 business people to pave the way for what he calls a new commercial alliance as relations with longtime ally Washington deteriorate. “In this venue, your honors, in this venue, I announce my separation from the United States,” Duterte told Chinese and Philippine business people, to applause, at a forum in the Great Hall of the People attended by Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaol. (Reuters

A Bollywood battlefield…India moved on Thursday to intervene in a nationalist furor that has swept Bollywood since an army base was attacked last month and that has threatened to derail the release of major movies starring Pakistani actors. Relations between India and Pakistan have deteriorated since the attack in September by militants who India says were from Pakistan. One of India’s biggest groups of cinema owners has said that it will not show films featuring Pakistani actors, partly targeting the planned release of a film this month by Karan Johar, one of Bollywood’s most successful directors. The movie stars a Pakistani actor, Fawad Khan. A far-right political party based in the state of Maharashtra has also warned all Pakistani performers working in India to leave within 48 hours or “risk being beaten up.” (NYT

Africans live-Tweet U.S. presidential debate…African political watchers are mercilessly and humorously skewering American politics with a recent Twitter hashtag that describes this year’s highly unusual presidential election in the same language often applied to troubled African elections. (VOA


Deadly spells of violence involving rival armed groups and attacks on aid groups in northern Central African Republic have restricted the delivery of aid to tens of thousands of people in need of assistance, the United Nations said. (Reuters

Somalia’s government has released three Al-Jazeera journalists Thursday, two days after they were arrested along with their driver by security forces, the network confirmed. (AP

Nearly 850,000 people in drought-hit southern Madagascar are experiencing “alarming” levels of hunger, and more aid is needed to prevent a dire situation from becoming a “catastrophe,” U.N. agencies said on Thursday. (Reuters

Ethiopian authorities said on Thursday they had detained 1,645 people since declaring a state of emergency less than two weeks ago in a bid to quell mass protests and violence. (Reuters

South Sudan rebel leader Riek Machar says he could return to the turbulent country as early as next month, even if he has to enter the way he fled — on foot. (AP

Authorities in Somalia have denounced the way refugees are being repatriated from neighboring Kenya, after the Kenyan government announced it would close Dadaab, the world’s largest refugee camp, by the end of 2016. (Refugee Deeply

Police in Ivory Coast arrested opposition figures and used teargas to disperse demonstrators gathering on Thursday to protest against a new draft constitution due to be voted on in a referendum later this month. (Reuters

A serious food crisis in the north of South Sudan is reaching critical levels, as a biting drought across much of east Africa serves up even more woes for the troubled country. (AFP

When the school term began last month, the government of Equatorial Guinea put in place a new rule – in order to enroll, all teenage girls must take a pregnancy test. And a positive test means no more education. (AFP

Police fired stun grenades to disperse hundreds of students gathered outside South African President Jacob Zuma’s offices on Thursday, a Reuters witness said, after weeks of violent protests across the country demanding free university education. (Reuters


Islamic State militants must be brought to justice for the sexual enslavement of Yazidis in Iraq, a prominent American lawyer said ahead of the release of a film about the world’s first conviction of rape as a war crime. (Reuters

As Iraqi families begin streaming out of villages in the path of an army offensive to retake Mosul from Islamic State, some fear that the onslaught may stoke future sectarian strife in the volatile region, a senior Red Cross official said on Thursday. (Reuters

A U.S. service member was killed by a bomb blast in northern Iraq on Thursday as U.S. troops expanded their support to local forces battling the Islamic State. (WaPo

Medical evacuations from Aleppo could begin Friday, the UN said, confirming that a humanitarian truce in the devastated Syrian city had been extended. (AFP

Turkish jets and artillery struck U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish fighters in northern Syria Thursday, and Turkey’s state-run news agency said as many as 200 militiamen were killed, in a major escalation of Turkey’s offensive in northern Syria. (AP


Super Typhoon Haima weakened and blew out to sea Thursday after smashing into the northern Philippines with ferocious wind and rain overnight. Flooding, landslides and power outages were evident, but large casualties appeared to have been averted after nearly 100,000 people fled to safer ground. (AP

Sri Lanka’s government must “clearly demonstrate” its political will and commitment to better protect the Indian Ocean island’s minorities by taking urgent steps to resolve post-war issues, a United Nations rights expert said on Thursday. (Reuters

The Americas

A power cut left Venezuela’s parliament in the dark as it discussed a law dedicated to the energy sector. (BBC

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, winner of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, will visit Northern Ireland in November to learn about its peace process, the Colombian embassy said on Thursday. (AFP

Key Venezuelan opposition figure and former presidential candidate Manuel Rosales has been released from jail and placed under house arrest. (BBC

Women in the Asia-Pacific region expressed dismay on Thursday about the U.S. presidential campaign’s focus on the emotional topic of sexual harassment, saying it shows both democracy and the rights of women in America have some way to go. (Reuters

The Buenos Aires march for the 16-year-old girl raped and killed a few days ago was matched by others across Argentina and other South American countries, after women’s groups called for solidarity via social media under the hashtags #NiUnaMenos (“Not one less”, meaning not one more woman lost to male violence) and #BlackWednesday. (Guardian

…and the rest

Stigma against LGBT communities remains a challenge for organizations that work with HIV/AIDS patients. But the biggest challenge of all might be keeping the disease in the spotlight. (Humanosphere

Doctors Without Borders says refugees at camps in Greece are still living in mostly “appalling conditions” with poor access to health care and a lack of provisions to identify the most vulnerable. (AP

Turkey detained 40 soldiers from an air base in the central Anatolian city of Konya as part of investigations into July’s failed military coup, Turkish media outlets said on Thursday. (Reuters

If countries ended forced marriage, child labor, female genital mutilation and other practices undermining girls’ health and rights, their economies could be billions of dollars richer for it, a U.N. agency said on Thursday. (TRF

Governments gave the green light on Thursday for a U.N. scientific study on how to meet an ambitious global warming target, despite growing worries by some scientists that the goal may be unrealistic. (Reuters


Meet Sarah Chayes, the NPR journalist turned social entrepreneur turned scholar of corruption. (Global Dispatches podcast

Abortion: Clinton invokes women’s rights around the world, defends choice (Humanosphere

This survey shows that endemic sexism harms both expectant mothers and the women who care for them. (UN Dispatch

Droughts don’t have to spell disaster. El Niño countries, take note (Guardian

What Does the Future Hold for the Rural Woman? (New Times

‘Water is a human right … but it can have a price’ (Guardian

Learning from the past to shape the future: lessons from the history of humanitarian action in Africa (ODI

Privatization the Problem, Rarely the Solution (IPS

6 lessons learned on fragility and conflict (Devex

The rippling effect of refugee policies (WhyDev


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